Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
3 May 2022
5:32 pm

‘Exhilarating but lonely’: Kevin Anderson ends memorable tennis career

Wesley Botton

While Anderson was criticised for making himself unavailable to the national team, he carried the SA flag with dignity on the ATP Tour.

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson has announced his retirement. Picture: Getty Images

After dedicating most of his life to the pursuit, big-serving veteran Kevin Anderson has announced his retirement from professional tennis.

Anderson revealed yesterday that he was calling an end to a lengthy career which had carried him into the spotlight on the highest stages the sport has to offer.

“I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t playing tennis,” 35-year-old Anderson said.

“I started on the journey 30 years ago when my dad put a racquet in my hands and told me if I was willing to work hard, I could be one of the best players in the world.”

Born in Johannesburg, Anderson attended the University of Illinois before settling in the United States for logistical reasons, making travelling on the tour a little easier. He went on to marry American partner Kelsey O’Neal, a former collegiate golfer.

While Anderson was criticised later in his career for making himself unavailable to the national Davis Cup team in order to focus on the ATP Tour, he undoubtedly carried the SA flag with dignity wherever he played.

And he made a real impact on the circuit. After making his top-flight debut in 2008, at the age of 22, Anderson went on to reach the fourth round or beyond at eight of the 12 Grand Slam tournaments he played between 2013 and 2015.

He produced a memorable effort to reach the US Open final in 2017, and the following year he beat American opponent John Isner in an epic six-hour battle to reach the Wimbledon final, which elevated him to a career-best No 5 in the world rankings.

Anderson, who won seven ATP Tour titles, struggled with injuries in recent years. But he will always be remembered as one of the country’s best players in the modern era, overcoming his lanky frame and improving his short game to the point that he was as feared at his best as anyone else on the circuit.

“I’ve experienced so many different emotions. This sport can be exhilarating and at the same time lonely,” he said.

“I’ve had ups and downs but I wouldn’t change it for anything. My journey helped me become the man I am today.”